March 1st –  March 18th 2018

Enrico Fantasia, Dublin with his 66cm trout

‘In Winter, I plot and plan, in Spring, I move’
Henry Rollins

Lough Sheelin has been slow to move off the starting block for this year’s fishing season. A bombardment of snowfall proceeded by the slush of the thaw, severe wind chill and a persistent cold, intermingled with rain produced far from ideal trout fishing conditions.

Lough Sheelin in the snow
Opening Day – March 1st, Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin

Water temperatures have risen sluggishly from 1 degree to 7 over the past few weeks. Storm Emma followed by brisk North to North East winds have ensured persistently discoloured water with clearance only occurring around those shores and bays that were sheltered by the prevailing breezes.  The tenacity of this winter has negatively impacted on Lough Sheelin’s early fishing season which normally would provide anglers with a good opportunity to catch a large trout.
Crover, Lough Sheelin March 3rd     
Crover, Lough Sheelin March 3rd

Because of the severe weather conditions, the water has been an unattractive place to be but nonetheless I find there will always be a scattering of the ‘die hard’ anglers who, resembling contenders for a Michelin advert, sally forth regardless of the baltic conditions and so because of this, trout are inevitably caught and although catches are reduced from previous years they still act as a reminder of the quality fish that are in this lake.
Cal Healy, Cork with his early season Sheelin trout (16/3/18)

The angler who braves the elements in early season, of course has one major card stacked in their favour and that is naivety. After the long winter months of uninterrupted peace and the rigors of spawning, early season trout are less cautious than they will be in the months ahead and therefore perhaps easier to fool.  The trout in cold winter water are fairly inactive, they hold close to the bottom column, minimizing energy expenditure and feeding on the copious amounts of shrimp and freshwater louse which are on the lake bed.  Snails and nymphs along with the odd zebra mussel are also on their menu.
Snow day
Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin
March 2nd 2018

The hatches…

March, even in a normal year is not the time to think about imitating fly life because there simply isn’t any. Early season successes here were all about deep and slow fishing, the di3 being the preferred line and sticking to the shallows.  Areas most favoured were at the back of Church Island, Chambers Bay down to Crover, Merry point, Gaffney’s Bay, Inchacup, Derrysheridan and Ross Bay.  Fishing anywhere on Lough Sheelin is always weather dependent but until the weather has improved the best advice is to stick to the sheltered bays and behind the islands.

Sheelin trout
A 61cm trout from Gary McKiernan, March 16th

Undoubtedly it’s been a tough start to Lough Sheelin’s 2018 fishing season but to quote Hal Borlan ‘no winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn’ and things will move on to better more conducive fishing conditions. Nature knows how to look after itself and fish for now are sulking in the depths waiting for better temperatures (12 degrees at least).  With the cold winter there have been next to no fly hatches whereas in previous milder years there may have been continues hatches of fly, so there  might be some catching up with the buzzers for this year and we could have a bumper hatch – just a thought.
icicles on the lake shore trees
‘Turbulence and ice’ The Sailors Garden, Lough Sheelin March 18th

Sailors Garden, Lough Sheelin
Sailors Garden, Lough Sheelin

The Catches…

Catch and release
Letting a Sheelin trout go… #CPRsavesfish

 The biggest fish for these past few weeks was a 66cm trout caught by Enrico Fantasia, Dublin (
Total number of trout recorded at this office: 12
Selection of Catches            
Making it look easy – Christopher Defillon with his beautiful Sheelin trout

  • Gary McKiernan ( – 3 trout, largest at 61cm.
  • Cyril Bernard, France – 1 trout on lures
  • Aleksander Nowakoskwi, Dublin – 1 trout at 3 ½ using Minkies at the back of Church Island, March 16th.
  • Jakub Lisowski, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs using a black & silver Humungus, March 16th.

The Flies…  

Minkie fly
Minkie (both red or orange work well under the chin for Sheelin’s early season

The Minkie in particular is a great lure and always works well on Sheelin at the beginning of Spring when the water is still cold.  The extra size of the fly and its sinuous movement makie it an enticing treat for the otherwise non too active fish.  It is best fish just beneath the surface using a steady retrieve but also does well if it is allowed to sink between retrieves.
Cormorant fly
Cormorant, black & holographic red (A1 trout flies)

The most popular choice with anglers here over the past few weeks have been the Lures – minkies (black with a small piece of red underneath at the chin), Humungus (black & silver), Cat’s Whisers, Snakes and the Cormorant, Because of the murky colour of the water all lures needed an attractor colour like silver woven in there somewhere.
Hare's ear dabbler
Hare’s ear dabbler Kevin Sheridan

wet flies
Paul Caslin’s wet flies for early season fishing

A Peter Ross Dabbler – a great early season fly

There are the anglers that adamantly refuse to use the lures and stick rigidly to the old favourites of the Pheasant Tail Nymph, Sooty Olive, Hare’s Ear Dabbler, Black Pennell and Diawl Bach but although some of these succeeded in bring fish to the boat, there were no successes recorded on these artificials.
buzzer flies
Mick McCormack’s Epoxy Buzzers

The bucket list

Last Saturday’s Irish Times ran ‘The ultimate Irish bucket’ list article – a to do list of things that apparently every blue blooded Irish person should do before they die and second on this list was to go mayfly fishing – a few calm hours dapping with the flies, swaying with the waves, having meandering conversations and waiting for the fish. With the end of March rapidly approaching May will be appearing on the horizon and this bucket list item could easily and memorably be ticked off on one of the best wild brown trout lakes in Europe – Lough Sheelin.

Sheelin guide
A new Lough Sheelin angling guide has been produced and is available to all anglers at the IFI offices in Kilnahard.


 Go Fishing…

Upcoming competitions…

The local angling club – the LSTPA will be kick starting the fishing season with their annual early season competition – The Kilroy Cup on Saturday March 31st.
This is a members only competition but membership is available on the day.  Starting time from Kilnahard pier is 11.0am to 5pm with a 16” two fish bag limit.
The heaviest fish wins and there will be several prizes up for grabs.
For further details please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033

House Rules

A permit is required to fish Lough Sheelin. Buy your permit online at: or from any of the permit distributors listed here.

Catch and release

Catch and release
Releasing a Sheelin trout #CPRsavesfish

A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times

 BYE-LAW 949 strictly prohibits:

  • The taking of any brown trout of less than 36 centimetres.
  • For a person to fish with more than 2 rods at any one time.
  • To fish with more than 4 rods at any one time when there is more than one person on board the boat concerned.
  • For a person to take more than 2 trout per day.
  • All trolling on the lake from March 1st to June 16th (inclusive).
  • To fish or to attempt to take or to fish for, fish of any kind other than during the period from March 1st to October 12th in any year.

Join the Club…

For anyone interested in joining Lough Sheelin’s Angling Club – The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

Guides and ghillies…

Grey Duster GuidingGrey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: [email protected]
Christopher Defillon
Tel: +33 68 596 4369  Email: [email protected]
Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web:
D.C Angling & Guiding Services
contact David @ 087 3946989
Michael Farrell
Tel: 087 4194156 or  +353 43 6681298
Email: [email protected]
Michael Flanagan,
Trout and Pike Guide.
Email: [email protected] Web:


We would implore anglers and all other users to wear life jackets for their own safety as well as it being the law.
Life jackets are required by law – SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005.Water  rarely gives second chances and a life jacket is just that – it saves your life.
Please put on and keep on that life jacket until you are back on dry land.

Crover, Lough Sheelin March 1st
Crover, Lough Sheelin March 1st